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December 26, 2011

Players experience NASCAR up close



CONCORD, N.C. - When Louisville's football team takes the field against North Carolina State Tuesday night in the Belk Bowl, it figures to face 48 minutes of bone-jarring hits and constant contact.

But that was nothing compared to what their bodies went up against at the Charlotte Motor Speedway when some got in a stock car for a few laps.

"It was like a roller-coaster times two," Louisville junior quarterback Will Stein said.

With all of the, umm, roller-coaster reactions.

"I thought I was going to throw up I was going so fast," Louisville defensive end William Savoy said.

Trips to nearby attraction as part of what makes bowl games special.

Members of both teams were fitted in fire-retardant outfits and full racing gear. Cars with the logos of each school were brought out.

The players were given a lesson in the pits - and got to change a tire or two. Those who had the nerve were allowed to ride with a trained driver for three laps on the 1.5 mile oval.

Not all chose to, but the ones who did quickly discovered a trip around the track is no walk in the park - and certainly not anything that compares to a road-rage racer on the highway.

The Legend of Ricky Bobby ... try Days of Thunder.

"I've driven go-karts and that's not a go-kart," Louisville receiver Josh Bellamy said. "I used to run into people in go-karts, you run into somebody with one of those (stock cars), your life might be over."

More than anything, the players were amazed by the speed.

"They said I was going 160 mph - I thought it felt like 200-plus," N.C. State safety Dontae Jackson said.

All left with a new-found appreciation for the sport.

"I don't watch NASCAR, but I might now," Stein said.



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